Port Fairy produces battling performance in the Ribblesdale Stakes

Port Fairy (12/1) showed a tenacious attitude as she fought back to win the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes (2400m) for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore at Royal Ascot on Thursday.

Port Fairly and Ryan Moore (inside) hold out Lava Stream and Daniel Tudhope in a stirring battle up the straight, picture Liesl King

It was a cool ride by Moore, for he was prepared to wait in second as You Got To Me established a long lead going through Swinley Bottom. The leader came back to the field on the home turn, but the most likely winner as they straightened appeared to be the eventual runner-up Lava Stream. 

Danny Tudhope kicked Lava Stream into a narrow lead over a furlong out, but Port Fairy battled back in a first-time visor to win by a neck. Kalpana, the 9/4 favourite, finished just under two lengths further back in third.

This was Moore’s 82nd Royal Ascot success, moving him ahead of Frankie Dettori at the top of the active jockeys’ list, although still some distance behind Lester Piggott on 116.

O’Brien said: “We just thought Epsom was going to come too quick for her [after she finished second in the Cheshire Oaks] so we gave her a bit of time.

“Ryan said maybe try a visor on her at home before coming here, so we put a visor on her the last day, and her work really stepped up. 

“She looks like she’d be a lovely Irish Oaks filly now as she stays well. And Ryan was brilliant on her – he didn’t panic even when the second went by. It was class."

On Moore moving ahead of Dettori, O’Brien added: “It’s incredible for Ryan to have achieved what he has, and at his age – he must be 10 years younger than Frankie [Dettori], isn’t he?”

Moore said: “It was a good fight. Port Fairy has improved a lot this year. She wouldn't show you a great deal in the mornings, as she is a very relaxed horse. I had a nice run round. She's straightforward, very uncomplicated, and she really tried hard."

David O’Meara said of Lava Stream: “I was delighted with that. She travelled so nice. Danny thought that maybe she idled a touch. He might have preferred to have had the winner in his sights rather than arriving there as soon as he did, but we were surprised at how well she travelled. She is a very exciting filly.”

On future plans, O’Meara said: “I don’t know. I wasn’t sure about the mile and a half, so there was an option of dropping back to the Nassau, but she’s seen that out well, so it looks like a mile and a half will be perfect for her. We always hoped that she was capable of winning a Black Type race, but she’s probably exceeding our expectations.”

Danny Tudhope added: “I am thrilled with that. Lava Stream is a talented filly and I thought she could run well today. She was up against it, stepping up again, but she has proven that she's good enough at this level. She was cruising and horses in front of me just weren't taking me into the race. She wears a hood and might have thought about it a little, but she did knuckle down and try and get back against the winner. I think I might ride her a bit more quietly because one thing she does do is travel up."

Oisin Murphy said of Kalpana: “Kalpana ran another career best. She got the mile and a half well. It was a good, even tempo – a proper stamina test. Well done to Ryan and the Ballydoyle team.”

3.45pm Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2)
1 Port Fairy (Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier & Westerberg) Aidan O’Brien IRE 3-9-02 Ryan Moore 12/1
2 Lava Stream (Elwick Stud) David O’Meara 3-9-02 Daniel Tudhope 20/1
3 Kalpana (Juddmonte) Andrew Balding 3-9-02 Oisin Murphy 9/4F
12 ran  

Aidan O’Brien – 88th Royal Ascot winner
Ryan Moore – 82nd Royal Ascot winner

Ryan Moore with the daughter of Australia named after Victoria's coastal town Port Fairy, picture Liesl King